Mine the Power of Rich Open-Ended Comments

Open-ended comments from sources such as social media, customer surveys, and your contact center can provide rich insights for both the brand and its locations. Executives can see and react to the macro-level brand relevant commentary that will help them shape strategy, products, merchandising, customer experiences and pricing. Location-level operators and franchisees can use commentary to drive and focus training, empowering teams to execute both brand and operational excellence.

Using this data for making the best decisions, though, depends on the analysis. Here are some important considerations when selecting a text analytics platform: 

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP) Algorithm: Choose an engine with excellent NLP capabilities, like IBM Watson’s Alchemy program. This algorithm allows computers to ‘read’ the text that a human has written. Any NLP engine should provide you with categories, more refined categories, entities, word patterns, keywords and sentiment.
     
  • Dataset relevance: Make sure that the questions you want to ask are targeted towards a relevant dataset. As an extreme example: Understanding brand sentiment from a contact center stream is going to give a heavily biased outcome to negative sentiment as many customers use this channel to complain—not provide compliments. 
     
  • Dataset sources: Any datastream with open ended comments is fair game. Consider using social posts, customer satisfaction surveys, contact center comments, and even mystery shopping or audit annotations. 
     
  • Analytics: Online platforms should present categories of data, trending, and be able to pinpoint changes. Analytics teams can take these analyses one step further by using text categories in two ways: 1) As predictors of satisfaction and loyalty and 2) To show the differences in and commentary between different groups. For example, a small business entrepreneur pays attention to and comments very differently on their cell phone purchase experience than a personal user. These differences in conversations can give you keen insights into how to address the needs of various customer segment. 

Market Force has recently introduced our new text analytics platform capabilities. Sentiment and keywords can be tracked in near real-time giving you the ability to track emerging trends—and as with all data, feeds into our KnowledgeForce® platform to provide you a single cross-datastream analysis of what your customers say. We’d be pleased to provide you with a demonstration—just call us at 1-877-329-9621. 

Learn about Text Analytics

Zachary Faruque is the Director of Product Management at Market Force, ensuring that the digital product portfolio is aligned to the strategic requirements of clients.

Making Sense of Sensors and Beacons

Many companies have invested in camera and beacon technology to track customers within brand locations. That data is very rich. How can you make sense of the plethora of information? We recommend tying behavioral data from these sensors to the subjective data supplied by customers.

For example, a Market Force partner uses sensor data to track cars and people at a gas station and convenience store. Data includes unique visitors, first time visitors, dwell time at certain stations (like the pump) and number of visitors entering the convenience store. This rich behavioral data can be combined with subjective survey data, contact center data, or mystery shopping data. Brands can examine:

  1. Relationship between dwell time and cashier service in the convenience store, and sales. Modeling can relate actual physical time spent in the convenience store to basket size and sales. It can extend to test hypotheses—like whether dwell time is related to cashier friendliness collected on your customer survey. And if that relationship exists, analytics can help determine what a cashier could do to ensure that a longer time spent in the store or at the register, ensures a higher number of items purchased.
  2. Bounced visitors. Real estate is an expensive investment. The number of bounced visitors who spend very little time at your location is a great indicator of abandonment. This information can be related to your mystery shop data to indicate whether the attractiveness, security, and cleanliness of your site discourages or draws in traffic.
  3. Average days between visits. This frequency metric will help you determine whether you have a steady clientele or new customers entering every day. That’s an implicit measure of loyalty and can be related to both customer satisfaction and loyalty card data.
  4. As a last example the number of people in a particular zone can be related to conversion rate. For example, three people might visit a zone that has a live sales person and only one purchases. Conversion rate could be related to the time spent with the sales person or the effectiveness of the sales person in positioning products. The latter would be measured through customer satisfaction surveys

With the use of GPS tracking in smart phones and the nearly ubiquitous implementation of cameras and sensors, your brand has the opportunity to link highly complex behavioral data with subjective perceptions and operational metrics like mystery shopping. A wealth of insights that your analytics team can mine to manage your business more effectively. To learn more about our location based services offering and/or analytics, schedule a briefing with us and we’ll be glad to have a conversation. 

 

Schedule a briefing

As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.​

 

Create a Restaurant Measurement System That Produces Real Results

Measurements are the key enablers to drive accountability and effective business and consumer analytics, as well as to help companies grow and strengthen their business performance. When I led a team at McDonald's that was charged with developing and implementing a world-class measurement system that centered on the critical drivers of restaurant performance and customer satisfaction, there were specific key elements/enablers that made it so effective. Let’s take a look at them.

1. Management buy-in before all else

The first and foremost step in creating a measurement system for your restaurant brand is to obtain support from senior management. Like any major initiative a company undertakes, it requires funding, people resources and management support to address any pushback within the organization regarding the need or direction of the project.

After the business case has been made and approved by senior management, you then need to create a cross-functional team that represents all of the critical segments of the business that will either be impacted or able to add value to the process design. This is critical to ensure you receive the best input on the design and structure of the measurement tools and processes. Plus, it lends credibility to the process, and helps turn those involved in the project design into advocates and supporters of the end product.

 

2. Set achievable and actionable metrics

The next step is to sit down with your team and ensure that the metrics or targets for the components you’re planning to evaluate possess the following characteristics:

  • Actionable – Are they in the control of the people who are being measured?
  • Realistic – Are they achievable or too far fetched?
  • Targeted – Make sure the targets are designed around the critical drivers for your business and customers’ expectations
  • Data-friendly – Data must be captured at the unit level to help determine root-causes and assist in developing effective action plans
3. Outsource the feedback gathering

Enlist quality third-party partners to help you capture and evaluate customer feedback on your brand and service, to assess in-store performance relative to your standards, and to gather employee input on their day-to-day experiences (e.g. customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping audits and employee commitment surveys). This is typically a more cost-effective way to capture the data versus trying to do it internally, and these are professionals who do this all day every day.

4. Tap technology – don’t undertake it all yourself

Leverage technology wherever possible to capture, input and report data performance at all levels of the organization. Spend the time upfront to perfect this process because, in the long run, it will guarantee the data is captured efficiently and reported back to the appropriate people in a friendly, summarized format. Technology will also assure the reports and analytics (e.g. unit rankings, top and bottom performers, trending, etc.) are performed in a cost-efficient manner, as they can easily start eating up lots of man-hours. The other benefit is that your performance data will be available any time and any place your staff wants to access it.

 

5. Don’t skip the training

Once the reporting is finalized – or even alongside it – you should be developing a comprehensive training program to educate all of the people in the system on all the tools, processes and reporting and, even more importantly, making it clear how they can tap them to drive increases in performance. The key here is to communicate early and often to all of the impacted people, so they have a thorough understanding of what, why and how the new performance improvement system operates.

6. Review and review again

Lastly, it's critical that you periodically review the measurement system and processes that you decide upon to make sure they’re still current and relative. Don’t go too long without taking stock because you’ll quickly fall behind in a fast-moving industry. Any significant enhancements or changes should be implemented ASAP.

Keep in mind that developing an effective measurement system will take time and dedicated resources. It's a journey and customers may not notice the performance improvements over night, but rest assured that they will eventually take note. When approached correctly, it will be a valuable tool to help drive performance improvements at both the unit and system level.

Any organization with numerous locations spread out geographically, such as multi-location restaurant brands, needs a quality measurement system to help them measure and assess performance consistently and timely. These tools are also the key enablers that will help you react to problems quickly, determine if action plans are working and begin building an accountability culture throughout the organization.

 

Jerry Calabrese was responsible for a global restaurant measurement system that evaluated and helped to significantly improve the performance of 32,000 restaurants in 100+ countries in the period from 2002 to 2008. As VP of Restaurant Measurement at McDonald’s Corporation, his leadership and implementation of tools and processes were a key enabler and significant factor in the financial and operational turnaround of the company during his tenure that helped McDonald’s improve its performance and brand image during that time period.

CX ROI: What's the value of investing?

There are two schools of thought around customer experience. The first school says, “Of course you have to focus on customers. Just do it.” The second says, “I have any number of initiatives where I need to spend money. Prove to me that my investment in CX has an ROI.” The latter is a tall order, but the link has been proven both by independent companies like Forrester and through modeling work by Market Force.

In July of 2015, Forrester released new research regarding the link between CX investments and ROI. The original research found a link between CX leaders versus CX laggards and stock returns, but also noted that there is lots of noise in the stock return data. In the new research, they focused on modeling to revenue in five different industries. The rich research (see www.Forrester.com, “Does Customer Experience Really Drive Business Success?” by Harley Manning) concludes that it does ... but with some caveats. For example, industries with lots of competition and freedom of choice from consumers show a much higher ROI on CX investments than industries where there is little choice and consumers are trapped.

Over the years, Market Force has created dozens of sophisticated models showing the relationship between customer experience and revenue, and indeed, the expected ROI when locations improved their performance on critical drivers of both. Example industries and KPI’s where we have found those relationships include:

  • Hotel: Increased Revenue Per Available Room (REVPar)
  • Petro Convenience: Volume of gas sold
  • Restaurant: Year Over Year Same Store Sales comps
  • Grocery: Annual household spend and same store sales
  • Retail Banking: Number of portfolio products purchased

The work is not for the faint of heart and requires much more than trying to generate a correlation between two columns of numbers. But the results open the eyes of executives and investors alike as they see the return on improving the customer experience. Read one of our case studies profiling a wireless retailer or visit our predictive modeling page to learn more about who you can make the case for your investment in customer experience.

  Download Our Case Study


As Chief Strategy Officer, Cheryl aligns Market Force's strategic direction with our clients' strategic objectives. She oversees the North American client base, Analytics and Insights, Winnipeg Operations and Marketing. She has a Ph.D. in social psychology and broad business experience in both private and public companies.

Three Ways to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

Every brand wants customers to provide feedback. That feedback ensures that the brand has solid metrics around the customer experience being delivered by each of its locations—and can then help each location meet or exceed various goals.

A 2015 research study conducted by Market Force showed that 83% of all consumers had completed at least one survey in the past 12 months, with an average of three to four being completed in that same time period. That’s good news. The bad news is that they are bombarded with requests to give their feedback. Both the market research and customer experience industries suffer from response fatigue. So how can you ensure every location in your brand receives the feedback they need to delight customers? 

1. Let customers use the channel they prefer to respond to you—and don’t make assumptions. In a recent pilot for a major petro-convenience retailer, Market Force tracked what channel consumers used to respond to surveys. You may be surprised:

  • 24% used the URL invitation to begin the survey
  • 12% scanned the QR code (no kidding!)
  • 40% used the SMS text code
  • 15% used Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

2. Make the survey visible. We see this mistake so often. The only visibility to the survey is the receipt tape—and that’s not often easily seen! Augment your receipt tapes with great materials that include the SMS text code, the QR code, the phone number, and the URL. Use window clings, table tents, print on bags and cups, have a “business card” at the register . . . all of these things will help you increase the chances that customers see the invitation and respond.

3. Offer a smart and flexible incentive. In our 2015 research consumers indicated that they are most likely to respond when they get a gift card or a have a bounce back—of course. That’s expensive, but if you can manage budget for that, it’s important to offer. Sweepstakes do work, but if you use them, make sure you have many chances of winning smaller prizes rather than one big prize with a low probability of winning. Finally, do consider giving the winner the option to contribute monies toward a charity supported by the brand. There are some do-gooders out there who prefer this and it’s great for building up the brand reputation and support philanthropic initiatives.

Getting a consistent flow of 20 to 30 surveys per month per location takes resources and planning. Make it your mission so every location has what they need to delight their customers and be an A player in your organization. For more information about Market Force’s approach to customer experience surveys:

  Download our Solution Sheet

Schedule a Briefing

To discuss your needs for improving performance for your multi-location brand, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss best practices for measuring the customer experience and compliance to brand standards, using analytics to understand what matters most and the ROI for change, and technology solutions that integrate large quantities of data on one single platform. We look forward to a great discussion!

Schedule a Briefing
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